Timing and the Necessity of Sharing Information with Federal Agency

The problem with sharing sensitive information with others is that the question of trust always enters into the picture.  As noted in a previous blog, a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be willing to submit sensitive medical information to one’s agency, at some point in the process.

Such submission — and therefore, presumptive “sharing” of such sensitive medical information — can hardly be avoided, because there are legitimate reasons why the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service must view and analyze the information.  Such mistrust of a Federal Agency is certainly not unfounded (yes, a double-negative is difficult to discern, but necessary nonetheless), and the concern rises exponentially based upon the nature of the medical submission, the prior historical encounter with the Agency in the arena of other litigation, adverse actions, legal forums, etc.  Then, the question of timing must be considered — for, if other litigation is pending, there is a question whether the submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application will impact any other pending issues.

Ultimately, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Medical Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one assumes that the goal of the applicant is to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, and be separated from Federal Service as an obvious but necessary consequence; and, in doing so, to suffer the cost of revealing some sensitive medical information in order to achieve that goal.

In attempting to reach that goal, one must get beyond the intermediate “wall” — one’s own agency — in order to arrive at the destination — the Office of Personnel Management.  That wall must be allowed to display some personal information.  How; to what extent; to whose viewing; and when and for what purposes, must be contained and restricted based upon a standard of ensuring, to the extent possible, that such viewing is limited to those who have a “must see” position in order to complete the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Part III: Common mistakes in filing for FERS/CSRS disability retirement

Words are peculiar animals; they are meant to convey meanings through stringing together, creating conceptual models, images, descriptive thoughts. Thus, one would think that the greater quantity of words would lead to a greater level of thoughts conveyed, images created, etc. However, what often happens (a commond mistake found in unrepresented applicants who file for disability retirement under FERS & CSRS) is that there is a ‘fatigue factor’ by the reader: in this case, the reviewing person at the Office of Personnel Management. People often either overstate his or her medical disability, or tend to think that pages and pages of a stream-of-consciousness narrative about one’s medical conditions will persuade the reviewer of the seriousness of the medical condition. Neither are necessary. Let the medical condition itself speak to the seriousness. The applicant does not need to overstate it; and a voluminous narrative only points out and emphasizes a suspicion that there is some underlying reason as to why you feel the need to explain yourself so much. Use of words is a ‘balancing act’ — using the right words; explaining the right amount; creating the right string of thoughts and images. An effective disability retirement application must find the right balance of all of these elements.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Part II: Common mistakes in filing for FERS/CSRS disability retirement

Always emphasize quality over quantity of medical records & reports. A common mistake often made by unrepresented individuals is that he or she will ship off to the Office of Personnel Management a large packet of medical records, bills, appointment sheets, raw blood test results, etc.

A potential applicant is always wise to try and look at it from OPM’s viewpoint: if you were a reviewer at OPM, which disability retirement application that is assigned to you would you look at on a Monday morning — the one that is 6-inches thick, or the one that is 1/2 inch thick?

Further, untranslated raw test results rarely effectuate a positive response. Raw data that merely conveys numbers, unless interpreted by a physician as to the medical significance of such raw data, will not impress anyone at the Office of Personnel Management. It is the job of an attorney to use the tools of an attorney: effective and descriptive words, and to help the applicant to find the proper descriptive words to convey the serious medical conditions that he or she suffers from.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire